She spent half of her life
wearing the same pair of shoes.
When she first saw them, they were dazzling…
full of promise (and promises!)
Tightly laced and polished,
glistening like diamonds upon her feet.
They were immediately comfortable, and comforting.
At first, she walked through dark night forests
and midnight-winding streets; breaking them in,
smiling at the melody of new leather creaking
in harmony with the violin-sawing of cricket wings,
with the ruffling of the night owls feathers.
She dared to share her dreams, and danced in her new shoes
with abandon and trust and hope.
The shoes spoke to her of wondrous things to come…
making promises shoes should not make
but new love demands –
of forever cradling her feet against sharpened stones;
of warming her toes through winter’s storms;
of lifting her heals in rapturous dance…
She fell in love with these shoes,
flooded with dreams of where they might carry her.
Each morning, she slipped them on with tenderness and love;
each night, un-laced, she fell asleep clutching them to her breast…
…whispering sweet hallelujahs
for all the miles they had shared,
and would in all their ahead days walk,
promising – until death do us part!
She loved her shoes with complete abandon
and imagined they would always be as comfortable
as the day she first placed them upon her trusting feet-
each day praying these shoes would always love her in return;
with tenderness, truth, and above all else, never hurting her.
But the years went by, and those beautiful shoes began to wear.
With time, they lost their gloss, and the leather cracked and hardened.
She noticed, one morning, a tiny droplet of blood upon her sock;
Later, a small cut upon her heel, a new pain within her heart.
Yet still, devoted, she continued to wear them
though at night she began setting them beside her bed.
In the final year, she wept looking at these shoes;
they were now ugly shoes, painful shoes.
“These shoes,” she tearfully whispered,
“will never carry me to where I need to go.”
She could tell in other’s eyes that they
were glad these were her shoes and not theirs.
They never talked about her shoes.
They looked away in embarrassed empathy.
To learn how awful her shoes were might make them
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
She began, for the first time, to hate her shoes;
with guilt at first, then with an increasing passion
until one day an awareness swept through her thoughts:
“I deserve a better pair of shoes.”
She looked around, and for the first time understood
that she was not the only one who wore those shoes.
“There are many pairs in this world,” she thought.
I can either learn how to walk in them, timidly,
so they don’t hurt quite as much…
“…or I can throw them away.”
And she began to plan.
“No woman deserves to wear these shoes,” she cried.
So for the final few months, she gathered her courage
…..to throw them away.
Ironically, it was these shoes
that had made her a stronger woman.
These shoes had given her the strength to face anything.
They helped make her who she now was.
One day, she slipped them on a final time
feeling the worn leather against her savaged foot;
then, flooded with the intensity of love one can only feel
knowing love is forever lost…she kissed the shoe goodbye.
When the time was right, she took her shoes to a secluded ravine
kissed them, and tossed them…like an old pair of shoes,
into an abyss.
The shoes lay there broken, tattered, worn and useless.
The shoes could not speak of the love they held for the woman
For its tongue was torn.
Left to decay with nothing but the scent of the woman’s
tender hands scenting its laces, slowly fading.
As soon as the shoes were disposed of
she went barefoot into tomorrow, pain-free
and dancing and singing:
“I will forever walk the bare feet
of a woman who has lost her shoes!”
But in exactly one year, she slipped on another pair,
happy and in love again, dancing and laughing once more...
hoping against hope, forgetting old shoes,
willing with all her heart for this shiny new pair to carry her home.
In the bitter waves of loss,
Thrashed and tossed about,
By the sullen winds of life that blow,
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors of love once cast
In search of eternal purchase
Now dragging useless in sorrow’s gale.
I am quietly holding fast, holding alone
To the things that cannot fail.
That’s what I seek (although my heart knows full well)
The truth is, I may never be able to know for sure why.
But I do know that there is no single
“Should have done” or “could have done”
Or “did” or “didn’t do”
That would have changed that why.
All that love could do was left undone.
This shipwreck, my castaway life,
This endless frothing of cold, death-capped waves
Was due to my taking my eyes off the horizon
Where our dreams were setting with the dying sun.
The redwoods swayed softly;
their crowns in the planets,
toes tucked below soft earth
under carpets of wet needles
beneath our feet.
This is how we said our soft goodbyes.
Our love, our forever love,
lay smoldering in the fire.
I could see the flames flickering
in her dampened eyes.
I looked away, ashamed and afraid;
too much the coward to own her pain.
She said it was the smoke –
one final lie to comfort me.
We speak in the soft, cordial tones of defeat
the air hanging heavy and silent between us.
Neither of us could hear the babbling brook
gently washing away the last remnants of hope.
I will hold back my tears,
and the wrenching of my heart,
for the long, dark lonely nights ahead.
Tonight, my love, my forever lost love,
let us wrest some comfort and warmth
from the dying embers of this bitter fire.
Beneath these redwoods gently swaying
gather one last bouquet of memories
to set us on our separate ways.
Each night within my folded dreams
You come to me, or so it seems
My heart beats then a thousand times
In aching rhythm, in broken rhyme
But when the morning sun appears
Once more I’m bathed in lonely tears
My thoughts of you will more than pay
The hopeless longing of this day
Come now, and let me dream it true
With sleep-clenched eyes I am with you
You part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say, Love, why sufferest thou?
Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
My thoughts of you will more than pay
The hopeless longing of this day
We are imperceptibly bound
by the common chords of our humanity;
colored threads weaving a rich tapestry
of shared experience.
Our similitude outshines our differences,
ineradicable and glistening;
certain and enduring
beneath a billowing canopy of endless possibility.
Not me, or you; not him or her, but all as one.
The fabric frays when we close our eyes
to the wonder and intensity of our diversity;
divisiveness and uncertainty pulls at the threads
which embroider the story of our divinity.
Our uniqueness as individuals only adds
to the richness of the fabric of humankind,
where rivers of color intertwine to form
delicate and stunning lines and patterns
– intricate and beautiful in their relations.
No stars hung in heaven shine more brightly,
shimmer more vibrantly,
or radiate more light
than when we embrace one another
as one and not the “other”.